Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vendetta

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vendetta by Peter David
Published May 1991
Read May 5th, 2011

Previous book (TNG published order): #16: Contamination

Next book (The Next Generation): #17: Boogeymen

Next book (TNG unnumbered hardcovers): Reunion


Click the cover to purchase Vendetta at Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Vendetta.  Also, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: First Contact!


From the back cover:
The Borg -- half organic and half machine, they are the most feared race in the known galaxy. In their relentless quest for technological perfection, they have destroyed entire star systems, enslaved countless peoples, and, in a single brutal attack, decimated Starfleet's mightiest vessels. Only a final desperate gambit by Captain Picard and the USS Enterprise crew stopped the Borg from conquering the entire Federation. And now they have returned.

About the novel:
It is the year following the events of "The Best of Both Worlds."  The Borg once again attack, this time almost completely destroying the Penzatti civilization.  However, just as the last of the race is about to be killed, an unknown force intervenes, destroying the Borg invaders.  Starfleet investigates, sending the USS Enterprise and a hospital ship, the USS Curie to render aid and discover what stopped the Borg.

The mysterious force that attacked the Borg is, in fact, a larger version of the "Planet Killer," seen in the original series episode "The Doomsday Machine."  This particular "doomsday machine" is piloted by a woman named Delcara, the lone survivor of a race wiped out by the Borg.  She carries with her a personal vendetta to destroy the Borg, commanding a ship fueled by her hatred and the hatred of the species that built it, whose "essence," or spirit, the planet-killer carries.  Delcara has such a close relationship with Guinan, that they each call the other "sister."  Delcara is also linked to Captain Picard.  She loves him, and shares a bond with him that goes back to his time at Starfleet Academy.


Another aspect of the plot involves the captain of the
USS Chekov, Morgan Korsmo, who was a rival of Picard's at the academy.  Captain Korsmo is jealous of Picard's successes throughout his career, and since it was Picard's suggestion of "sleep" to Data that ultimately defeated the Borg in "The Best of Both Worlds," the accolades Picard received due to that event have served only to further Korsmo's resentment.

The Borg, seeking a new speaker to replace Locutus, come across a Ferengi ship, captained by DaiMon Turane.  The Borg assimilate him, turning him into Vestator of Borg.  Under Vestator's lead, the Borg mount a small armada to intercept Delcara's planet killing weapon.


Finally,
Vendetta also tells the story of Reannon Bonaventure, a freighter captain who had been assimilated by the Borg.  The Enterprise crew rescues her and "de-Borgifies" her just as they did with Picard.  However, she remains seemingly catatonic, refusing to do anything but follow instructions like she did when she was a Borg drone.  To the Enterprise crew, what little reaction she does give indicates that she doesn't know how to be anything but Borg.

In the end, Korsmo puts aside his jealousy of Picard to assist in defeating the Borg, and Picard is able to best Vestator of Borg in combat.  However, the
Enterprise crew is unsuccessful in rehabilitating Reannon, who kills herself while in custody over the guilt at having been complicit in the destruction of Penzatti.

The crux of the story is the vendetta that Delcara maintains.  She is unable to see past the feelings of revenge and hatred to analyse the situation rationally.  The end of the novel sees her speeding towards Borg space at speeds approaching warp 10.  However, due to severe time dilation effects, moments for Delcara are elongated into eternities.  She is doomed to spend forever in pursuit of her vendetta until the end of time.



My thoughts:
I enjoyed Vendetta for the most part.  I had been told that it was one of Peter David's best, and I think it lives up to that reputation in many respects.  The pace of the story is good, the action is exciting, and it was fun to go back in time to the middle of the TNG series for once.  If I have only one complaint, it's the somewhat haphazard characterization of the series regulars.  I feel that the author captured Picard's voice perfectly, but some of the others come up a little short.  In particular, Data and Worf felt a little out of character.  Worf seemed to be nothing more than a (somewhat) oafish brute, and Data was a little too child-like and naive.  Granted, on the television show at the time, Worf and Data were closer to that than they became later in Trek "history," but I still feel that they were a little more developed by this point.  I also felt that Geordi's views and statements didn't entirely ring true.  I've never known him to feel that his being blind was in any way seen by others as a handicap, other than when the Enterprise visited the genetically engineered colony in "The Masterpiece Society" (TNG).  It seemed odd that he would ascribe bigotted feelings to his crew mates and link them to his blindness and having to wear his VISOR.  Finally, Dr. Crusher's objections to Geordi's attempts to rehabilitate Reannon seemed wildly out of character as well.

Vendetta
 presages a number of concepts that later find their way into the Trek universe.  The reversal of Reannon Bonaventure's assimilation anticipates a similar situation with regards to both Hugh in "I, Borg" (TNG) and Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager.  Thankfully, Seven's story turned out much less tragically than Reannon's.  Another idea that surfaces again is a character who is blinded by revenge and hate for the Borg.  
I found it very interesting that Picard is the one to try and talk Delcara out of her vendetta.  In many ways, her fury and single-mindedness are echoed by Picard himself in Star Trek: First Contact, although obviously not quite to the same degree.

I really enjoyed the ending of the novel, and the use of repetition to convey the idea of the futility of Delcara's journey of revenge.  As I read the novel in an electronic format, I at first thought the repeated chapters were an error, but enjoyed the stylistic device when I realized it was intentional.  The mathematical idea of infinitely halving the distance between two points and never actually reaching the end was a great analogy to Delcara's experience.  One truly appreciates the tragedy of her character, imagining her warping towards her revenge for the rest of eternity.


Vendetta
 was an exciting and interesting read, and I would have to give it an 8/10.  Peter David remains one of my favorite authors, and his work here doesn't disappoint.


Also by Peter David:

Next review: 
Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock.  Until next time!